Perhaps you’ve heard some people say that life is a hike between the cradle and the grave. For some, it’s a long trip of many moons. For others it’s a short trip that ends unexpectedly.
But all of us are equipped for life’s trip with two knapsacks – one to be carried on the back the other to be carried on the chest.
The average hiker on the trail of life puts the faults of others into the knapsack on his chest so that he can always see them. His own faults he puts in the sack on his back so that he can’t see them without special effort. He hikes through life constantly noticing the faults of other people but usually overlooking his own faults.
Scouts, this pack arrangement is bad because no one can have a successful life just finding fault with other people.
It’s the man who can see his own faults and strives to correct them who enjoys the hike through life the most and finally enter the Happy Hunting Ground with thanksgiving.
Let’s place the knapsack with our own faults upon our chests and put the bag with others’ mistakes behind us. That way we’ll have a happier hike through life.
Scouts, here’s a little quiz for you: What’s the most welcome two-word sentence in the English language? Some of you might say, it’s “We won!” Others would vote for, “Here’s money!” But I think the most welcome two-word sentence is “Thank you. ”
It isn’t used as often as it should be. How often do you use it? And how often do you say thank you to the persons who are closest to you, your mother and father? How often do you say it to your friends or even strangers when they do something for you?
It’s so easy to forget, especially if the Good Turn is done by somebody in your family. Too often we take for granted the many things our parents and other family members do for us. Next week we’re going to have a family night for members of our families. Here’s a challenge for you. Between now and then, see if you can find some reason to say thank you every day to some member of your family. You may be surprised how they will react.
A simple thank you costs nothing, but it means so much to those who matter most to you. And remember, manners make the man and can be the difference between you being just another Scout and one who earns himself respect from those around him.
It may seem funny to say so, but you’re very lucky that is hurts when you hit your finger with a hammer. If it didn’t hurt you could be in big trouble.
It’s a rarity when a person can’t feel pain, but it does happen. Some years ago, for example, there was an eight year old boy in England who couldn’t feel pain. For some reason, his nerves, did not signal pain to his brain.
If you think he was lucky, think again. The problem could cost him his life. Once he was seriously burned by a red-hot oven door, but he didn’t even know it until he was snatched away.
So it is clear that physical pain can save us from mortal danger. But there is another kind of pain, too, and all of us here can feel it. It’s a spiritual or moral pain, and it’s called conscience. The conscience is one of our greatest gifts. Without our conscience, we would not know enough to keep from getting burned in even more serious ways than that English boy.
So as the old saying goes, “Let your conscience be your guide. ” It will help you to know whether you are following the Scout Oath and Law. You have no better friend that your conscience.
(Hold up some money)
All of you recognize this and know that it will buy certain things. It can purchase a candy bar, a stamp, or a little time on a parking meter. Add more money and you can do bigger things.
However, there are many things that money, no matter how much you have, cannot buy. Some of these include the love of your family, freedom friendships, and the great out-of-doors.
You can’t place a value on Scouting, either. We couldn’t pay salaries high enough to get all the help we have. Nor could we place a value on the memorable experiences, the camping trips, the hikes and the fun of campfires.
People can’t pay us for the Good Turns we do, and isn’t that a good thing? Such payment would take away the good feeling that we have when we do things for others.
Remember, this money can buy many things, but not the things that really count in human happiness and dignity.
Some years ago a hard-nosed coach said, “Winning isn’t everything, but it sure beats whatever’s second. ” There’s some truth in that. Everyone likes to win. Very few people enjoy losing.
The trouble is that in every type of competition, there must be losers as well as winners. That’s true in sports and it’s also true in the competitions we will have next week at our camp-out (or camporee).
It’s also true in life. You and every other human being find that sometimes you have to be a loser. Perhaps your sports team loses a game on an unlucky break. Or maybe you work hard in school but get low grades. Some people might say you’re a loser.
Maybe so. But you don’t have to stay a loser. The real difference between winners and losers is that a loss makes some people more determined to do better next time. In the long run they are the winners because they learn to profit by their defeats and mistakes.
No, winning isn’t everything. We can learn from losses, too. Let’s remember that at the campout and in the years to come.
You’ve probably seen a baseball pitcher who can throw a ball through a brick wall, but he can’t throw strikes. In baseball, if you don’t have control, you don’t win.
That’s true for all of us, not just pitchers. Self-control and self discipline are vital to any man. A man must be able to control his tongue, his appetite and his body and brain if he’s going to get anywhere.
A long time ago, a sportswriter named Grantland Rice wrote a little poem that expresses the idea very well. The poem is called “Over the Plate” and it goes like this:
It counts not what you have, my friend,
When the story is told at the game’s far end;
The greatest brawn and the greatest brain,
The world has known may be yours in vain;
The man with control is the one who counts,
And it’s how you use what you’ve got that counts;
Have you got that bead? Are you aiming straight?
How much of your effort goes over the plate?
If someone told you that you would be dropped from a plane in the heart of the Canadian wilderness and could pick one tool, implement or instrument to take with you, what would you choose? Would it be a rifle, pistol or similar weapon? How about a tent or sleeping bag? Or would a box of matches be more useful?
An experienced woodsman was asked this question and without hesitation he said, “My Ax. ” He said that with his ax he could defend himself, build shelter, cut materials to make snares and fishing equipment to make food. The steel in his ax would strike a spark from the rocks in the area and provide him with fire. He said that in this day of marvelous inventions, only the simple ax could do all these things and guarantee his survival.
If the ax is so important to the experienced woodsman, shouldn’t we be a little more respectful of it? Shouldn’t we learn how to use it correctly, to care for it, and always to keep it sharp and ready for emergency use?
The woodsman, when he said, “My ax,” really meant, “My sharp ax, unrusted, with a tight head, ready for hard use. ” An ax that doesn’t meet these standards is pretty useless. Let’s be sure our axes are always ready for use.
(Take a bearing with a compass)
One day a Scout named Bill was sighting with his compass, as I’m doing now. “Top of that hill is 045 degrees,” said Bill, “I’m going to follow that bearing and end up on top. ”
Bill started off checking his compass now and then to make sure he was heading right. Finally he set foot on top of the hill.
He had done three things – set his objective, figured out the direction he’d have to go to get there, and then moved full steam ahead.
Like all of you, Bill set a lot of courses towards many goals in his lifetime. Maybe he said to himself, “I’m going to be an engineer. ” Then he would find out what it takes to become an engineer, and steer his course in that direction.
By the end of this month, all of you should be able to set a compass course. Probably all of you have set a course toward a career. There’s another kind of course that’s more important than your career. I’m talking about the character course. . Your character is being formed right now by what you do and don’t do.
We have a “compass” for the character course, too. It’s the Scout Oath and Law. Set your character course using the Oath and Law and you’ll have the best kind of character.
You’ll be the kind of man that others can trust, rely upon and admire. you’ll go to the top of the character hill.
Smart shoppers read the labels when they go to the supermarket. Product labels tell them a number of things:
Whether the can or package contains beans, corn, flour, or pork chops; what ingredients it contains; what it costs; the weight of the product. The label also carries the trademark of the packer or manufacturer. You may learn a lot by reading labels.
In Scouting, we carry around our own labels. The uniform itself is a kind of label. It tells people that we are Scouts and that we are trying to live by the Scout Oath and Law.
If they know anything about Scouting, the badges we wear are labels, too. The badges describe some of the ingredients that make up your package – how far you have progressed and whether you’re now a leader in the troop.
How well does your label describe the contents of your package? Can it be said of you: “The enclosed package lives up to the Oath and Law? He is prepared to help in emergencies and does a good turn daily?”
And is it true that the badge of rank you wear honestly reflects your Scouting skills? I’m quite sure it does because we don’t give badges in this troop to Scouts who haven’t earned them.
Wear your label, your uniform and its badges, proudly. And remember that it tells a lot about you and about your pledge to the Scout Oath and Law.
(Hold up a plaster cast of a track. )
Scouts, here you see permanent evidence that an animal (or bird) has passed along the way. Before we made the cast, the track was pretty temporary – a few hours of wind and rain and all signs of the animal’s passing would be erased. By making the cast, we preserved the track for future generations of Scouts to view.
Our lives can make a temporary or permanent mark in the world according to the way we live. Most of us probably never will be great leaders of nations or famous in the arts or sciences, but we can still leave a permanent mark on this earth by the things we do for others.
The daily Good Turn is one way to start making your mark, because as you give of yourself to others in unselfish service, you are making changes in their lives and yours. Those who change the lives of others make a permanent mark in the world, because the good they do lives on long after they have passed along the way.
Has each of you done his Good Turn today? Have you decided to consciously seek out opportunities for service to others and not just wait until you happen to see a need?
Decide now to leave your permanent track as you pass through the years.